Thursday, April 5, 2007
Grindhouse opens tomorrow and as far as I know that's what I'll be doing. I can't wait. One of the major scenes in the Tarantino half is a car chase so he's been spouting off in various interviews about some of his favorites. I'd make up my own list, but you know what's on it. Bullitt, French Connection, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Ronin, Vanishing Point, The Driver. But Tarantino mentions a terrific one in the new Rolling Stone that very few people know.
There's an Italian crime movie from the early 70s called Hired to Kill. It's also known as Manhunt, Manhunt in Milan, Manhunt in the City, Hitmen, Black Kingpin and Mafiaboss. Oh, I think I saw it under the title The Italian Connection. Fernando Di Leo directed. It's fairly dull stuff, actually. A small-time pimp is framed by the Milan Mafia for stealing heroin from the New York mob, which dispatches a pair of assassins to take care of him. At least I think that's what the plot is. Mario Adorf is the pimp, Thunderball alums Adolfo Celi and Lucianna Paluzzi are in there and the two hired killers from America are Henry Silva and Woody Strode, looking like obvious forerunners to Vincent and Jules in Pulp Fiction.
Like I said, it's kind of dull. But at about the midway point, there's a brutal killing followed immediately a chase. I remember sitting in the Egyptian theater two years ago watching this, suddenly roused from my boredom, thinking, hmm, this chase seems kind of interesting. After about 90 seconds I suddenly though, no, this chase is AMAZING. Over the course of cabout ten minutes it went from a car chase to a foot chase, just going on and on. It was fantastic. Then, after the chase was over, it was back to the dull movie we'd already been watching. But I'd go to see this movie again just for that chase.
In some ways that's the sort of thing that Grindhouse the movie is celebrating. There's sleaze, there's girls, there's violence and some of these movies also just lie there. But sometimes there's the thrill of discovery in one of these things, a few minutes of flat-out Cinema that gives us that sleaze, that violence, that action, that whatever, that gives us that extra-special jolt of frisson. And we're reminded why we're watching it in the first place. Tarantino knows that. I can't wait to see Grindhouse.